Day Left: 361; Recipes to go: 597
French Pancakes Filled with Cream Cheese, Spinach, and Mushrooms
Julia Child (Volume I ~ Mastering the Art of French Cooking)
My trouble has not been baking/cooking with Julia Child but blogging time. I keep running out of time at night. Maybe I should learn to blog in the morning, except I get up at 4 a.m. and leave by 4:45 for work. Any earlier and I might as well not go to bed. Today was rough because my working partner was transferred to another job, but for him this could be a good thing because he will be closer to home for his commute. He and his wife just had the cutest little boy a little over 6 months ago (I know because I have seen pictures, starting from when little Sal was a day old) and he'll have the extra time to spend at home. I think extra minutes even count. Me, I am now by myself working as an electrician getting a city hall ready for the grand opening this weekend. I left work tonight forgetting to put a fence back up, (fence sections really) protecting job materials in the parking garage of the City Hall, and our General Contractor called me 1 1/2 hours after getting off work to inform me that I messed up.
Just an icky Monday. Well Julia is here to the rescue to sidetrack me from the day.
These French crepes required 3 separate recipes combined to make a finished product. I needed a recipe for the crepes, p.191; a recipe for cooked spinach, p.469; and the complete recipe for the French layered and stuffed crepes, p. 193.
I started with the crepes which is a recipe I could just fall in love with and use over and over. The only down fall is the batter needs to chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours before baking. All ingredients are thrown into the blender at top speed (Julia's words, not mine) and BAM! Done. For 12 crepes you use 1 cup cold water, 1 cup cold milk, 4 eggs, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Put all this in the blender jar then add 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour and 4 Tablespoons of melted butter. Cover and blend at top speed. Stop. Scrape down with a spatula and blend for 2 to 3 seconds more. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. I just put the blender cover back on and set the jar on the top shelf of the refrigerator for the 2 hours. Easy!
Lightly oil a skillet over moderately high heat, until the pan is just starting to smoke. Remove the skillet from the heat and add about 1/4 cup of batter into the middle of the pan. Quickly tilt the pan in all directions to run the batter all over the bottom of the pan in a thin film. This whole process takes about 2 or 3 seconds.
Return the pan to the heat for about 1 minute, flip crepe and heat for another 30 seconds. I ended up with about 18 crepes.
Sauce Mornay was next (bechamel with cheese), about 3 cups worth.
Start out with 5 Tablespoons of flour and 4 Tablespoons of butter. Cook the flour and butter slowly together in a 1 1/2 quart saucepan for 2 minutes without coloring.
Take off heat and beat in 2 3/4 cups of boiling milk along with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg. Boil, stirring for 1 minute.
Reduce to simmer and stir in 1/4 cup whipping cream by tablespoons. Sauce should be thick enough to coat the spoon fairly heavily. Remove from heat and correct seasoning. Stir in all but two tablespoons of the cheese. Film top of sauce with milk to prevent a skin from forming.
The spinach filling required starting out by blanching spinach. Then the blanched spinach is set aside while you cook 1 Tablespoon of shallots in 2 Tablespoons of butter for a moment in an enameled saucepan. Add 1 1/2 cups spinach, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and stir over moderately high heat for 2 to 3 minutes to evaporate moisture. Stir in 1/2 to 2/3 cup of the cheese sauce. Cover and simmer slowly for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Correct seasoning and set aside.
The cottage cheese and mushroom filling starts with mashing 1 cup of cottage cheese in a mixing bowl with salt and pepper to taste. Beat in 1/3 to 1/2 cup of cheese, and 1 egg. (This part was confusing to me)
Saute 1/4 pound minced mushrooms and 1 Tablespoon of shallots in 1 Tablespoon of butter and 1/2 Tablespoon of oil for 5 to 6 minutes in a skillet. Stir them into the cheese mixture, and correct seasoning.
Forming the mound involves buttering the baking dish, and centering a crepe in the bottom. Spread the crepe with a layer of cheese and mushroom filling. Press a crepe on top and spread it with a layer of spinach filling. Continue with alternating layers of crepes and filling, ending with a crepe. Pour the remaining cheese sauce over the top and sides of the mound. Sprinkle with the 3 tablespoons of cheese and dot with 3 or 4 pea-sized bits of butter. Set aside.
Bake the mound of crepes with filling in the upper third of a preheated 350 degree oven to heat through thoroughly and brown the top lightly. To serve, cut in pie-shaped wedges.